It’s Not a Matter of If, But When Ducati Builds a Scooter

12/13/2013 @ 4:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

Its Not a Matter of If, But When Ducati Builds a Scooter Vittoriano Guareschi Ducati Corse Scott Jones 635x423

The rumors about a Ducati Scooter for the next model year are hitting the internet hard lately, and that is perhaps unsurprising. Ducati’s sales stalled in the third quarter of this year, and the Italian motorcycle company at this point in time is simply trying to finish 2013 on par with its 2012 success.

There is also the fact that Audi AG now owns Ducati Motor Holding, and would like to see the ~44,000 unit company bump its figures into the six-figure territory, and help its German owner take a certain Bavarian brand head-on in the two and four-wheeled industries.

The current slate of internet conjecture about a high-performance maxi-scooter, along the same lines as the Yamaha TMAX, appear to be just that: conjecture. The cold weather of the off-season, and slow news days that stem from it, serve only to fuel this sort of speculation, but that is not to say that these rumors aren’t without a grain of truth.

We already know that 2014 will see the debut of the Ducati Scrambler, which will eventually be Ducati’s foray into the small-displacement marketplace. With many of the Japanese OEMs, now along with European brands like KTM and Triumph, taking the under 500cc market more seriously, the only real holdouts in the motorcycle industry are BMW and Ducati.

It says something when even Harley-Davidson is getting in on the small-displacement / developing-nation two-wheel market trend with a purpose-built machine.

The writing is on the wall for Ducati to build its own small displacement machines, and yes even a scooter. The Bologna Brand of course will stamp its own unique flare on the two-wheeler. It will be exclusive, it will feature timeless Italian lines in its design, and it will be centered around performance — this much we can count upon.

Similar to how Ducati built a bridge, with bikes like the Hypermotard, Multistrada, and finally the Diavel, to move from a sport bike brand into a well-rounded brand of performance motorcycles, the Ducati Scrambler will be a point of genesis for a similar push into small-displacement machines.

The expectation is that the Scrambler will be Ducati’s first modern model not to be built in Bologna, and that the air-cooled machine will be geared to sell primarily outside of Europe and North America (we would be surprised if those markets didn’t get the Scrambler as well though).

Ducati seems set to repurpose a two-valve motor from the Monster series for the Scrambler’s power plant, but at some point the Italians with have to design a smaller purpose-built engine, possibly a single-cylinder for markets like India, Indonesia, Thailand, etc.

While the potential sales volume of these machines could certainly justify a break from Ducati’s current “multiple bikes from the same engine” design philosophy, it is not hard to imagine a progression into how Ducati’s small-displacement engines could find their way into different chassis — like a scooter, for instance.

Just like the markets of emerging countries, the sales potential in the small-displacement realm can no longer be ignored by the large OEM brands in developed markets. This means the matter of Ducati building scooter is not one of if, but instead is one of when. Will that “when” be 2014? That remains to be seen, though we think not.

Ducati hasn’t built the foundation for that bridge yet; and besides, a change of that magnitude would be felt all the way down the rumormill pipe at this point — Bologna just isn’t that good at keeping secrets. Could we see a Ducati scooter in five years’ time though? That sounds more like a guarantee than speculation.

Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. TexusTim says:

    Jensen, dont tempt us with a picture like this without an explanation of what were looking at…is it a one off scooter ? or is this something to come ? I like it but dont know what the heck it really is.

  2. Bruce says:

    The scooter pictured is a Malaguti Phantom F12R 50cc (I believe)

  3. Tim, if I had an actual picture of a Ducati-made scooter, the article would have read a bit different, and MCN would already be ripping the photo off as another “exclusive” on their site. Like Bruce pointed out, it’s just the team-branded scooter for MotoGP.

  4. TexusTIm says:

    O I see …sorry… it looks really cool.

  5. kww says:

    I’m sorry but with Euro emissions being what they are, I don’t think they will do an air cooled anything if it is a new design engine.

  6. ML says:

    whats next? Bicycles and skateboards?

  7. froryde says:

    @ ML – they already have Ducati branded bicycles (made by Bianchi) and don’t underestimate Bologna when it comes to brand whoring…

    I just hope they don’t stoop down to HD levels of doos, rags, and pleather halloween pirate costumes.

  8. BBQdog says:

    Bah, scooter ?? Let them build a nice light Supermono. As promissed once …

  9. starmag says:

    Ducati scooter. Seems wrong just to say it. And I’m not even Ducatisti.

  10. Brian says:

    @Froryde, while Ducati’s merchandise may not be as over the top as HD, they still do offer such gems as gaudy track (running) outfits, and shorty red-white-green Ducati bathing suits. Yuck.

    Regarding scooters I say bring em on. Any opportunity to get more people riding on two wheels is okay with me. Lots of people love to bash small displacements and scooters, but these are “gateway drugs” to get people hooked. Ducati would add that Italian flair too. It seems to work for aprilia.

  11. Kennon says:

    Ducati now use Rieju RS sport 50LC scooters as pitbikes they’re spanish built scooters using a minarelli engine as malaguti died out a few years back now.

  12. ML says:

    @froryde – I know, right? I can’t wait for my ducati branded espresso machine and alarm clock!

  13. JoeD says:

    Before motorcycles there were radios.

  14. Norm G. says:

    re: “Let them build a nice light Supermono.”

    Scootermono, hows that grab ya…?

  15. Rick says:

    Makes sense since their GP bike is a scooter…

  16. Nickster says:

    @Froryde, I work at a dealership and felt compelled to remind you that Ducati already offers everything from plush toys to bathrobes, beach towels, scarves, flags, bikinis, iPhone covers (I have one, it’s really cool), lighters, bandanas (for the pirates), etc. Example here: http://store.ducatiusa.com/p/ducati-corse-plush-dog-large/apparel_product-type_accessories?pp=20

    Ducati seems to be losing relevancy in the marketplace since the Audi buyout. Lack of leadership perhaps. I think this Scooter rumor is fluff. Ducati seems to be taking the opposite approach, building premium large displacement bikes and losing the attention younger consumers.

  17. IseeDumbppl says:

    WHO CARES!!!

  18. Jw says:

    Harley Davidson lost their way when they started making beer, cigarettes and china made wall clocks sold at Sears. Becoming more a brand than a bike. Focusing on happy share holders rather than improving the core product.

    I hope Ducati will stay true

  19. smiler says:

    Sensible really. Difficult for the Chinese to copy as well which is the most important consideration. 300-500 cc naked and sports bike. Job done.
    However I just wish they would get their racing dept sorted.

  20. Looter says:

    The Chinese already have a copy called Peking Duc! But it doesn’t have a single sided swing arm. Ha!
    On a lighter note, why doesn’t Bologna just give into the smaller displacement bike market and take on KTM and the Japanese?

  21. Ducman says:

    Small displacement scooters scares the bejesus out of me. I would buy a performance orientated scooter if there was one that does not resemble a barge. I dig the convenience of a scooter for commuting and short touring trips. The BMW C-series scooters are very tempting but overall suffers from bland styling. I think Ducati can inject some serious fun into a scooter – sexy styling, sharp handling, torquey motor and top end brakes and suspension.

  22. meatspin says:

    had a seller on CL trying to sell Brio. It looked pretty cool. I know a lot of current ducati owners have no idea they sold a scooter at one time.

    I think a small scooter would sell well. Anything to keep me out of public transportation would suit me well.

  23. TexusTim says:

    well i would love to have a bad ass scooter for a pitbike…of course I would have to “brand” like a Honda…@ dumbppl…we care a little about anything two wheels…do you have a thorn in your foot bro ?

  24. Andrew says:

    You mean make *another* scooter. Ducati has two in their history, that I know of. The Cruiser 175 in the 1950s, and the Brio in the 1960s. And they aren’t unusual by having scooters in their past, as Harley-Davidson, Triumph, BMW, and even KTM all do as well, with scooters like the HD Topper, Triumph Tina & Tigress, BMW C1 and new range, and KTM Mirabel & Ponny all in their former lineups.

    For these brands to start building scooters now isn’t heresy, it’s history. And good business.

  25. Norm G. says:

    I don’t so much as see them building a scooter as I see them building another single and then spinning of a few different models (scooter being one). it’s something that you can be sure they’ve already discussed long ago and drew up sketches on. it’s just been sitting on the back burner waiting for the green light so they can then make it seem like they just pulled it out of their asses.

    remember, this is the niche business of motorcycling, an all street bike company like ducati doesn’t have a lot of cards to play (painfully aware this). they can’t give you everything all at once. they could’ve easily built a 250cc scooter and a 500cc supermono years ago, but some things/ideas have to be held back… otherwise they would have nothing (jack squat) to offer you in future model years. at which point, we would claim they are stagnating and not being fresh and innovative. damned if they do, damned if they don’t. such is the nature of “fan-sumers” and devaluing mentalities.

  26. KSW says:

    ML,

    I just shot a picture of a Ducati clock on the shelf at Rick Lamberts in Fort Lauderdale. I don’t know how to add a pic to a post though. It was antique and sat next to a collection of Ducati books.

    What is with all the scooter haters? There are 80 year old women in Asia who would leave you at the light and being carrying a weeks worth of grocery’s in one arm. Is it that you can’t stand being passed by a scooter?

  27. Jaybond says:

    Mr Ducati, pls bring back 600SS and Supermono!!

  28. Motoscuzzy says:

    I thought all Ducatis were scooters…. I’m waiting for their Motorclothes, heh, heh, heh!!!

  29. Wayne Thomas says:

    People just don’t get economics. Porsche needed increased cash flow (not just profit) in order to not only keep operations going, but to also increase revenue to aid in R&D. Ducati is doing to same logical thing. How many dreamers come along promising to make the next best super car only to make maybe a prototype (and if lucky, sell a handful of models) only to disappear within a few years? Ducati is making a smart business decision in finding revenue streams that are more constant.

  30. paulus says:

    Agree with Mr Thomas

    It is also to build brand loyalty from an early age. Some of today’s scooter riders go on to buy bigger bikes in the future.

  31. TRL says:

    A scooter(ish) product is absolutely at the core of Ducati’s DNA. It’s always been a little strange that as a company in the Land of Scooters they haven’t regularly offered one.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ducati_Cucciolo

  32. David says:

    Why Ducati didn’t buy Malaguti when they went into receivership is beyond me. It’s a perfect fit, expands their brand nicely and the Phantom that Vito is on is badass!

    What are they waiting for?

  33. ZootCadiilac says:

    I’d love a scooter from Ducati. Being about the only way to get around the paddock it would be nice to have a brand bike. Be better than the Ducati UK scooter that I was supplied with for the Silverstone GP this year. The one that completely broke down at the paddock entrance and had to be pushed back to Ducati’s offices the complete other side and two bridges away from the scooter. Yeah, I’m looking at you Peugot.

    Scooters are fast becoming the first motorised transport available to youth’s in the UK. I’d be happy to see a Ducati made vehicle.